It could be said that NAGLFAR have only released one truly classic album (“Vittra”) and spent the remainder of the career trying to match it, with results ranging from good (“Pariah”, “Harvest”) to plain poor (“Diabolical”). Simply put, they’ve made a respectable career out of recycling that old DISSECTION/SACRAMENTUM sound but in all honesty they haven’t exactly set the world alight since the “Vittra” days. Will “Téras”, their first collection of new material in five years, remedy this situation? Based on my three listens so far, the blunt answer would have to be no. “Téras” is your typical latter day NAGLFAR effort, which is to say it’s a decent and workmanlike effort in Melodic Black/Death Metal but nothing more. One thing that is immediately apparent is the significant increase in speed and intensity, something 2007’s “Harvest” lacked to an extent.
With its moderate speed, triumphant chanting and strangely uplifting atmosphere, the title track kicks off the album in atypical fashion. The overall vibe of this song is one of “the battle is over, hail the victorious dead!”, and while it is a solid effort I do feel it would’ve been more appropriate as an outro-type song instead of an opener. The aforementioned boost in intensity/speed is immediately apparent in the following “Pale Horse” and “III: Death Dimension Phantasma”. It is not until “The Monolith” that we are treated to some of those trademark NAGLFAR melodies, something that helps accentuate the bleak atmosphere that permeates this track. This trend is continued in “An Extension Of His Arm And Will”, where the Death and Black Metal trade-offs serve to build up a storm if violence that is nicely offset by the slightly slower chorus sections (replete with those blood-curdling backing melodies I so love). After a moody intro “Bring Out Your Dead” gets even heavier, but I found it to drag after a while. They seem to struggle to incorporate the melodies effectively into the faster songs for some reason. It’s not a major issue, though, and something like “Invoc(H)ate” is sure to please fans of extreme aural annihilation, as this one races along at tempos that would be right at home on a HANDFUL OF HATE or early MARDUK album. It is not until the epic “The Dying Flame Of Existence” that we get more of a balanced approach, with the morose feeling of this 8 minute closer bringing to mind the dark vibe of “Harvest”.
I’m sure “Téras” will please fans of the band, but it’s doubtful whether it will win them any new fans. Honestly, after a creative break of five years I really expected them to come up with something that is not quite so one-dimensional. Don’t get me wrong – I do appreciate this more feral side to the band’s sound, though it is a pity that a consequence of this has been a significant decrease in the more atmospheric dynamics of their music. The result is an album that goes straight for the jugular for the majority of its duration, yet leaves the listener with very little to ponder after it’s all over. That being said, the album is quite consistent and a stellar effort overall.
(Online March 18, 2012)